Penn State football has long been about more than football - perhaps never more so than during Blue White Weekend.
For many of us who grew up in State College - and many more who grew up nearby - the annual spring practice event was the first Penn State game we got to see in person.
Today, Blue White Weekend is a family affair that stretches from Friday night into Sunday morning, with concerts and a carnival, and numerous other events on and off campus.
Saturday's game was special to my family for two reasons - it was my son's first trip inside Beaver Stadium, accompanied by my sister, as had long been her dream. She got the pleasure of explaining some of the intricacies - and even some basics - of football to the lad, along with his cousin, who also was part of the outing.
It was also my wife's first Penn State game, and unless I miss my guess, probably the first college game she actually paid attention to (I know she went to a few contests at Seth Grove Stadium in her Shippensburg days, but suspect she spent most of that time caught up in sorority activities rather than those on the gridiron).
There was no mention of the legendary coach who long marched the sideline, but his memory was served. Our family being there was a bit of a tribute, too, as my sister and I showed the little one the press box where our dad - the grandfather he never met - worked through the first decade of Joe Paterno's tenure.
The return trip to the campus, Sunday morning, was far more memorable. My sister and I got involved with something we expected to be fun, but had no idea how big it would be - the third annual Beaver Stadium Run, a fundraiser started by Sue Paterno to raise money for Special Olympics.
This year's run was in the memory of Joe Paterno.
Now, those of you who recognize me at a sports event - especially if you see me in profile - probably wonder how I'd live through a 5K run. Short answer: I'd ask the same thing. Thankfully, there was a walking component - although, after preparing to walk the full 3.1 miles, I was a tad disappointed when we were shifted to a different, and shorter, route.
The turnout for this event necessitated it, though. More than 3,000 runners and walkers took part, doubling last year's total. And more important, the fundraising total tripled - from just under $100,000 in the second run to nearly $300,000 this year.
Coincidentally, my first involvement with Special Olympics was at Beaver Stadium, at the state games in 1989. The radio station I worked for at the time partnered with a cell phone company, giving the participants a chance to call home after they took part in their events. It was moving to hear the youngsters express their pride and joy, and left an impression that remains to this day.
On a few occasions since then, I've covered Special Olympics as a reporter, and have always been impressed not just with the efforts the kids in the games put forth, but with that of the high school athletes working the event - kids who in their own sports excel, but who see in the Special Olympics athletes how blessed they are to have those abilities.
For me, the Beaver Stadium run was a good chance to get into the healthy habit of walking, and a chance to meet one of my childhood sports heroes, Franco Harris, another Special Olympics supporter. It was a chance for my sister, my son and I to end our respective races going through the players tunnel and meeting the rest of the family at the 50-yard line.
More important, it was a chance to be part of something bigger - the success of a program that serves more than 20,000 athletes in Pennsylvania alone through more than 200 events each year, culminating with the state games.
My part was aided by a few dozen friends and colleagues who supported my effort with a donation to Special Olympics; they are just as much a part of this event's success.
And if you're not doing anything on May 2, you might want to head down to Dietrick Field at Juniata High School, for the Mifflin-Juniata Track and Field Day. You'll be glad you did.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.